Though 100 players ventured into the 2012 NHL Combine, it was those that missed significant chunks of the season that came away the biggest winners after strong performances.
Players like Alex Galchenyuk had the opportunity to prove that they were 100 per cent healthy, while others like Morgan Rielly had the opportunity to turn some heads.
In my opinion, the players who had the most to gain at this year’s combine where the ones who had questions around them. Players such as Galchenyuk, Rielly and Slater Koekkoek, who missed significant portions of the season due to injuries had a final opportunity to give NHL scouts and general ganagers an opportunity to see just how healthy they are.
Right away the player who stood out the most for me was Galchenyuk.
Coming off of a significant knee injury that limited his year to just eight games, Galchenyuk proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is in fact ready to go. He finished first in the Anaerobic Fitness aspect of the testing, while also showing well throughout the entire process. I have no doubt in my mind that Galchenyuk did what he had to do this past weekend, prove that he is healthy and ready to fight for a spot on an NHL roster this September.
Another player with a big question around him was Keokkoek, who was limited to just 26 games this year after a shoulder injury forced him miss almost 70 per cent of the season. Keokkeok’s top-10 finish on the bench press left little doubt in the health in his shoulder, while the top finishes in the VO2 and Wingate tests were certainly a positive. After his positive Combine showing, Koekkoek has pretty much closed the door on any concerns that one may have about the long-term health of his shoulder.
Since the start of the season, Rielly, a defenseman for the Moose Jaw Warriors, has been heralded as one of the top blueliners available in the 2012 NHL Draft. His skating and puck skills made him one of the more intriguing options for any NHL team.
However, much like a lot of his peers, he suffered a significant knee injury that limited him to just 23 regular season and playoff games. He probably had less questions than Koekkoek and Galchenyuk, however it was reassuring to see him be one of the Combine’s top performers. Finishing in the top-10 in multiple categories, I think it’s fair to say that any injury concerns that may have surrounded him have been answered.
Some other surprises at the NHL Combine include Matia Marcantuoni‘s performance on the Wingate was impressive, Andreas Athanasiou testing well throughout the entire event, while players like Brendan Gaunce, Cristoval Nieves and Tom Wilson putting in dominant physical performances.
It can be debated as to how much a positive or negative combine can truly affect a player draft status. I don’t think that any team would throw away eight months of live viewing because of a bad physical test in June, however what this year’s combine did offer was an opportunity for players who had questionable health status prove that they were in fact 100 percent healed.
With the results now in, I think it’s fair to say that most if not all of those players have answered any health questions that may have surrounded them.